Reform of Church “Inevitable”
Nearly 400 supporters gathered for the FutureChurch 14th annual
dinner on October 7th to re-commit to our mission of preserving
the Eucharist as the center of Catholic worship.
James Carroll, renowned Catholic author and columnist for the Boston
with many when he described himself as a “traditional Catholic” in
search of trustworthy Catholic leaders, who wants the church to go forward honoring
its traditions while responding to the needs of our time. His faith life was
transformed by the spirit of Vatican II and by the humanity of Pope John 23rd
who so embodied the message of Jesus.
He began by presenting a difficult set of facts: 10,666 children
abused by clergy, 4,392 perpetrators, 4% of priests guilty of
the rape of children, more that 700
priests forced to leave the priesthood and almost 100% of bishops guilty of protecting
the rapists, but not the children. The response from Rome has been denial, scapegoating
homosexuals and even blaming the “Jewish media.”
Confessing that much of his writing seeks to justify his right
and that of his readers to offer words of dissent, he challenged
the audience to consider why
we, as Catholics, continue to assent – when the very future of the Church
has been put into question by a massive collapse of a corrupt structure of authority
which has wounded so many because of a sexist, sexually repressive, patriarchal
system of ministry.
Yet he firmly believes that a reformed Catholic
Church can become the global force for justice and consolation
for all people.
He challenged us, as living
witnesses to the profound moral and cultural changes in the church as a result
of Vatican II, to be resolute inrescuing these reforms from efforts to quash them.
Carroll remains a Catholic because of his longing for God and because
the Eucharist feeds this hunger and builds a sense of community.
He also remains because he
believes the Church is the great custodian of the western tradition, a world
community of a billion members reaching across the divides of affluence and poverty,
north and south, information technology and illiteracy, superstition and scientific
rationalism. He saw the church’s promise personified in John the 23rd who
knew that if we change this institution, we can change the world.
Noting that disappointment and gratitude are at the heart of the
Catholic experience, he challenged us to not be driven away.
Seeing the Church’s flaws plunges
us deep into the mystery of the “good news” that God works through
human instruments. Human history, not just the dreams of a few, drives the reform
of our church.
History may have its tragic character, but it continually presents
us with choices, which are the occasions of change, growth and
Carroll believes that reform in the Church is as inevitable as
the fall of the Soviet Union, a process that was a straight line
from the disaster at Chernobyl
in 1986 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He sees the worldwide sex abuse
scandal as Catholicism’s Chernobyl.
His hope and trust in the promise of history are buoyed by being
with Catholics committed to preserving the reforms of Vatican
II like the members of FutureChurch: “You
are the source of hope for me and for many others.”